If you want to protect your online accounts from hacker attacks, you can do a lot yourself to prevent data theft. In the following, we will introduce you to five essential things that every Internet user should do for the security of their online accounts.
If suddenly access to your own Facebook or Instagram account no longer works, the shock is great. It gets even worse when the email or PayPal account is affected. What feels like a distant danger to many can quickly become a drastic reality.
And: With a large company like Facebook, you can’t even call customer service to clarify the matter. Recapturing the account is sometimes a lengthy affair – which may not be successful.
But if you follow a few basic safety tips, you don’t have to let it get that far in the first place. We’ll show you what you should absolutely pay attention to in order to protect your online accounts from hackers in the best possible way.
Tip 1: Secure passwords
In the meantime, every internet user has realized that it is not a good idea to use the same password for several accounts. And no, even two or three different passwords don’t make it any better.
It is a safer step to vary the passwords every time. But if the variation is “Fluffy123” and “Fluffy567”, hackers don’t need long to crack the password in case of doubt – after all, they don’t do it themselves, but rather let computer programs try out a variety of combinations in a fraction of a second.
A good password should therefore be long and contain numbers, letters, and special characters, as we show you in the video above. Unfortunately, no one can remember such passwords, especially not for hundreds of accounts. A remedy here is a password manager, such as Bitwarden, which can be used both on the PC and on the smartphone. We strongly advise you to use a password manager, as it usually also has an integrated password generator that automatically creates secure passwords for you.
Tip 2: Use two-factor authentication
Activating 2-factor authentication (2FA) is one of the strongest security measures you can take to protect your online accounts right away.
In the event of an unusual login attempt, online services use it to check whether it is actually you who wants to log into the account. If a service like Facebook does not know the device from which you are currently logging in, it asks for a confirmation code that is sent to your smartphone. Even if a hacker has stolen your password, he cannot access your account because he lacks the second factor, i.e. the mobile phone code.
Therefore, you should activate the 2FA for every account for which it is possible, but definitely for email and social media accounts. Tip: For more security, it is best to call up the smartphone code via an app such as Authy instead of having it sent by SMS.
Tip 3: Regular updates
If you follow tips 1 and 2, you have secured your login data against theft in the best possible way. But what if hackers exploit other security gaps, for example directly in apps or software?
Usually, there is little you can do about it yourself and you have to trust the provider. However, there is one thing that you as a user should definitely pay attention to regular updates. Because with an update, developers always close security gaps and bugs. Your apps and software should therefore always be up to date. For your Android smartphone, you can activate the automatic app updates in the Google Play Store, for iPhones from iOS 13 this works automatically without any action on your part.
You should also install updates on your PC as quickly as possible; Windows updates do this automatically. The Patch My PC or SUMo tools will help you with software updates.
Tip 4: Recognize phishing attacks
The easiest and most common way that hackers can gain access to your accounts is through a phishing attack. Hackers often send an e-mail that looks deceptively real and pretends to be a service such as Facebook, Google, or Amazon as the sender. The email will then ask you to click a link. Do not do it! But that is easier said than done. Because phishing emails are not always written in bad German or even in English and can therefore be easily recognized. Anyone can fall for such an attack. The only way to reduce the risk is to be aware of the risk.
You should always be careful with links in emails and, if possible, go to the website manually instead of clicking the link. If an email seems strange to you or if it is supposed to be urgent, you should check it even more carefully. It is often helpful to take a look at the sender’s email address and do a quick Google search to see whether other users have received similar emails. The phishing radar of the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center can also help.
Tip 5: Reduce your digital footprint
Even if you create and manage all new passwords with a password manager from now on, you will still have old, mostly no longer used accounts in the depths of the Internet whose access data can be hacked. Hackers often use this route to gain access to accounts that you are actually still using.
It is therefore best to check with the Have I Been Pwned? whether you have fallen victim to data theft and change the password of the affected accounts. If you want to be on the safe side, delete any old accounts that you no longer use anyway.
In order to leave less data on the net in the future, you can now use browsers and search engines that protect your privacy better than Google and Co., for example, the Brave browser and the search engine DuckDuckGo.